HSU Nets $1.6 Million from Stem Cell Research Grant

Arcata - The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has approved $17.5 million in funding for training in stem cell research at universities and research institutions across the state, with an anticipated $1.6 million slated for Humboldt State University.

According to Professor Amy Sprowles, a faculty member with HSU’s Biology Department, the bulk of the money will go toward internship opportunities for Humboldt State students. “Probably 75 to 85 percent of the dollars are specifically for students to get training at Stanford and UCSF. These are year-long internships for which they’ll be paid and the students will maintain their enrollment at HSU,” said Sprowles.

The rest of the money will be used to develop a general education course in stem cell and regenerative medicine. Plans also include a speaker series featuring leading researchers from Stanford University and the University of California at San Francisco, and educational programs for local medical professionals.

“Part of the impetus for this training program is that we’re at a point where stem cell science is translating into actual therapies. All Californians are soon going to have to deal with health choices, either for themselves or their family members, which include stem cell sciences,” said Sprowles.

“Getting the local professionals up to speed means they’ll be better able to educate their patients and make sure they’re aware of the most up-to-date medical care. So that will benefit all our community members,” added Sprowles.

HSU President Rollin Richmond, who co-authored a white paper on California State University’s role in preparing a workforce to staff the burgeoning stem cell industry, says educating students about this new industry is essential.

“It’s very important for students, even if they’re not interested in the field, to know something about stem cell research so they understand the arguments. And for science majors, whether it’s the research, working in the laboratory, or working for a company doing full-scale production, they’ll need a background in stem cell research. For Humboldt State not to offer that to our students would be a big mistake,” said Richmond.

The CIRM was established in 2005 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. To date, the CIRM governing board has approved 253 research and facility grants totaling more than $635 million, making CIRM the world’s largest source of funding for human embryonic stem cell research.

For more information, visit www.cirm.ca.gov